Friday, August 19th, 2011 – Melissa (IPR front desk) invited me to attend a North Community YMCA Youth and Teen Enrichment Program talent show. A seemingly odd request, until I learned the rest of the story.
Melissa’s Son, AKA Frizzy Free, and his partner Milkman were to perform. Earlier in the week I heard their track “On My Level”; I was blown away that Frizzy Free, 9 years old, had, as they say in the rap world “crazy flow”. Flow is that cool place where language and rhythm connect and draw the listener in. I had to ask “who produced this?” The answer was no surprise: IPR graduate J.T. Evans.
J.T. works with North Minneapolis youth at the YMCA about 5 minutes from IPR. He’s teaching production as part of the youth program there, and he’s working with kids to help produce them, and coach them to be better rappers and vocalists (mixed in with other program activities). The evening’s talent show showcased kids J.T. has worked with as they performed original raps, and, in some cases, choreographed dancing. I was captivated to say the least; the number of kids and event attendees alone speaks to the high quality of the staff and planning of their youth program. And J.T. plays a key role along with many other youth workers I saw that night. The North Community YMCA Youth and Teen Enrichment Program truly gets it right.
When I spoke with J.T. after the show, he agreed to connect with me very soon to talk about what he’s been up to since graduation. He was careful to note that he works closely with another YMCA staffer and wanted me to know that he (J.T.) doesn’t deserve all the credit. J.T. also handed me a free copy of this year’s Youth and Teen Enrichment Program CD that highlights some of the talent I saw at the show. This stuff is unusually well done; J.T. is quite a good hip hop producer – I was very impressed. All the performers I heard had a positive, upbeat message to convey, and I had a blast watching the show. If you like working with youth, I know a really good place to apply.